Creating a Foggy Morning with Photoshop or Elements

Aclear, crystal cool autumn morning by the lake. What a great way to start the day, sipping coffee and gazing across the water…

The only problem is that the weatherman called for light to heavy fog this morning, and we sure don’t want him to be disappointed. Here’s how to help Mother Nature out a little bit…

It really is pretty simple to turn a clear day into a foggy day with Photoshop. Here’s two different methods to try:

I’m starting with the image to the right – I already did a little bit of adjusting already – I added a Layers Adjustment and pulled down the Saturation a little. I also added just a bit of yellow to it, using the Variations tool, under Image>Adjustments.

For the first method of adding some fog, I’m going to paint a large stripe right across the middle of this image using the waterline as a guide.

Create a new Layer, and name it “Fog” (or name it “Earl”, or name it “Loretta” – it doesn’t really matter….).

I chose a large (very large!) brush so I could add my fog in one pass. This is important for this technique, since we’re using one of the additive blend modes on our paintbrush…

You can see how large my brush was when I started; I actually wound up redoing it after I took this screenshot, and made the brush even bigger:

Select the paintbrush tool and get a large round soft-edged brush (to increase or decrease the size of your brush on the fly, press the ] or keys on your keyboard; to soften your brush, press or {). Change the blend of this brush in the tool area along the top of the work area to Dissolve, and lower the opacity to about 50 or 60%.

Now choose a medium – to – dark grey color, and while holding [Shift], paint a single line across the center of the image:

The Dissolve mode makes it sort of “speckly”, which is good, and holding [Shift] helps us draw a straight line (I have a little trouble with straight lines, especially later on into the evening…):

Now it’s just a matter of adding a Gaussian Blur to this fog layer:

I added a mask, and ran the Clouds filter on it to break up the clumps a little bit (Photoshop Elements users could do this by adding a Levels Adjustment, leaving the levels sliders alone, and running Clouds on the mask – then clip the two layers together.)

I also dragged a Reflected Gradient across the mask to make the fog fade away at the top & bottom – again, PSE users can do this on the Levels Adjustment layer’s mask.)

I grabbed the Eraser tool and a soft brush and erased a few places here & there, then went back over them with the Smudge tool. A final pass with the Dodge and Burn tools in a few areas finished it off:

For the second technique, I first made a rough, feathered selection where I want the fog to be:

You can do this on the same image without having to open another copy of it – just turn off the “Fog” layer you created, and create another new layer above it.

Press to reset your to your default foreground & background colors – Black & White.

On a new layer, run the Filters>Render>Clouds filter a few times until you get a good “foggy-looking” blend.

It doesn’t look like much now, but change the blend mode of this layer to Screen and reduce the opacity to 60% or 70% or so, and see how it looks…

Hmm, well, OK, it still looks a little bit not-like-fog. But that can be fixed:

Fog generally lays across the water, not in big puffy blobs on top of it – it needs to be flattened out.

Press [Ctrl]+T to open the Transform tool, and then press [Ctrl]+- a few times to zoom way out.

Grab the middle side handle on either side and pull it way out. Now pull the middle side handle on the other side and pull it way out. Press to accept the transformation:

A little more Gaussian Blur and it’s getting close:

I duplicated this layer, and added a bit of Noise to it (Filters>Noise>Add Noise, using gaussian, monochromatic, and the slider at about 15).

I reduced the opacity of this new layer, and ran a Filter>Blur>Motion Blur on it, to add a little density to the fog. I wanted it to be subtle, so I kept the opacity down, and the strength of the blur fairly high.

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